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HyperloopTT – Transforming Transportation Between City Centers

On April 12, 2018, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies announced the shipment of the very first full-scale freight and passenger tubes. A first glimpse at the plans for their research and development (R&D) facility located in Toulouse, France was also set. HyperloopTT stated that its test track will be completed in two phases – a closed ground-level system running approximately 320 meters in length and a full-scale 1-kilometer-long system. It is planned that the smaller track will be up and running for testing within the year. The 1 km full-scale system, elevated by pylons at a height of 5.8 meters, is expected to be operational in 2019. The company’s full-scale passenger capsule in its R&D facility in Spain is almost close to completion and is scheduled for shipment this summer.

The images and video about HyperloopTT’s track construction is the first concrete evidence of company’s actual efforts to pursue its goal of developing a full-scale passenger capsules capable of transporting people or even cargo via a near-vacuum tube running at a speed of approximately 760 mph. Previous announcements and an article from HyperloopTT were seen as dubious and hard to imagine.

In 2013, HyperloopTT was built with a global team of over 800 engineers, technologists, and creatives among 52 multi-disciplinary teams, including 40 university and corporate partners. Hyperloop Transportation Technologies is an innovative transportation and technology corporation that focuses on achieving the Hyperloop – a system that transports goods and people at an exceptional speeds without neglecting safety, efficiency, and sustainability. The company’s headquarter is located in Los Angeles, California, and with offices in Dubai and Abu Dhabi; Toulouse, France; Bratislava, Slovakia; and Barcelona, Spain. Led by co-founders Bibop Gresta (Chairman) and Dirk Ahlborn (CEO), HyperloopTT utilizes the unique, patented technology and advanced business structure of collaboration, innovation, and partnership to create and license technologies.

In BOLD’s Exclusive interview with Dirk Ahlborn at the Synapse Summit, the HTT founder elaborated its bold steps in building the first ever full-scale hyperloop in the world. “We spend most of our time over the last five years to put all of these technologies together. We are ready now for what we call version number one. Version number one is ready to build,” said Dirk


Hyperloop Transportation Technologies aims to carry 28 to 40 people per trip and over 160,000 passengers though their capsules every day.

“Because it has no resistance, it’s a capsule hovering and much of the air’s out, it can go much, much faster. Roughly 760 miles per hour, which means on the trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco, roughly 36 minutes. Now this has a benefit that you’re from city center to city center in a very short timeframe,” the CEO added.

Recently, the company had closed a deal with Aldar Properties to build the first commercial hyperloop in UAE by 2020. The planned capsule is estimated to span 10 kilometers on the borders of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, which will cut the travel time to the capital to only 12 minutes.

Back in 2012, Elon Musk, Tesla CEO and SpaceX founder, publicized the concept of hyperloop.

“We built this platform in beta and launched it around the same time as Elon Musk proposed the hyperloop idea. When he said that he was too busy working on it because of Tesla and SpaceX and he wanted someone else to pick it up,” Dirk Ahlborn commented.

Dirk Ahlborn also stated in the interview that bringing the hyperloop dream to life means much more than building a company from ground up and cashing in from a bold idea.

“We had to do more than just build a company. We had to build a movement. And that’s exactly what it is today. It’s a movement.”

The company’s full-scale capsules will solve transportation’s most pressing problems – speed, comfort, and efficiency. Hyperloop Transportation Technology is changing the way people move through innovative transportation, making ripples of bold impacts today and beyond.

Internet of Things is Shaking up the World. Learn How!

The Internet of Things or “IoT” is starting to boom. By definition, the Internet of Things is a network of hardware devices, home appliances, cars, and smart gadgets with installed software, electronics, sensors, connectivity, and actuators. Using wireless technology, this system of networks can connect and communicate with each other, share data, and talk to us as well. Every device is recognizable by its installed program but can also operate interchangeably within the boundary of the Internet infrastructure.

From microchips to enormous machines, IoT is significantly rising at an astounding pace: the estimated 2 billion “things” in the year 2006 are expected to blow up by 200 billion in year 2020. In fact, the number of smart devices in 2016 grew 31% (8.4 billion) in 2017 alone. It is projected that 26 smart devices will be owned by every single person on Earth.

So why is this Internet of Things such a hit? In a bigger perspective, corporations see these things as a means to innovate in every area, from small items to large scale ones –whether it’s a simple sprinkler that operates when a lawn is already dry or a huge irrigation system that stores up water within wide and dry land fields. In day-to-day living, an employee who is traveling to a meeting can easily navigate their way with the assistance of his vehicle that has access to their calendar and appointments, finding the smoothest route to take. In case there is a heavy traffic ahead, the car can send messages to the list of attendees to notify them that he will be late. Another good example is an alarm clock that wakes up a person at exactly 7:00 o’clock in the morning, and then notifies a coffee maker to begin brewing a hot coffee.

IoT can be largely applied to many things including transportation systems. “Smart cities” have already started to reduce waste products and develop efficiency for energy usage, thus helping people improve and understand the way they work and live.  In reality, IoT enables vast opportunities and endless connections to offer, and a lot of them are not yet recognized or wholly understood by society nowadays. The value of IoT tech across the world is projected to be more than $6 billion by year 2025, according to Intel. Most of its prices are heavily concentrated in manufacturing and healthcare services, and from agriculture to retail to utilities, the future applications will be widely distributed.

Internet of Things Impacting the World

Big cities and large companies have already embraced the utilization of Internet of Things. In the Downtown Innovation District of Las Vegas, connecting corridors have traffic system that can communicate with vehicles installed with newest technology. An ongoing sharing of real-time data is implemented not only with car-to-car but also with car-to-infrastructure, which is proved to be helpful to car companies, department of transportation, and fire and police departments, providing them an accurate details of the way traffic behaves and how it responds with cyclists and pedestrians on the road. Meanwhile, Amazon Web Services is one of the best examples of IoT in the business setting. Whenever a project gets too complicated, the company’s ability to abstract a large subset of data from the voluminous information is really a great feat. Since 2015, Amazon has been offering a wide array of IoT services on its Amazon Web Services platform. The services include a fundamental interconnection layer, analytics, sync feature with AWS Greengrass, and support for easy IoT activities such as ordering via the Dash buttons.

IoT has a lot more to offer in the coming years. Talks about the “smart things” have been going on across the globe as researches seek to understand the full impact of IoT in our daily lives. With more and more companies and tech giants joining this path, it is vital to understand the challenges and opportunities this technology may present. For the meantime, the best action that we can do is to learn the potential impacts of IoT and enjoy its benefits in our everyday lives.

What Music Product Is Making a Surprising Comeback?

Technology has made such a bold impact for music lovers everywhere. Digital music means instant access to your favorite songs and artists, remastered versions of your favorite albums, and an easier hold of a music library now that there’s virtually no need for physical copies as everything is in the cloud. However, vinyl comeback is a surprise – it’s making a bold impact on sales and has created a resurgence of analog for music enthusiasts. Interestingly, it’s not the names one would think. Instead of bigger, more established companies, it’s actually startups who have catapulted vinyl back from its obscurity.

Retro Resurgence

What goes around usually comes back around, and pop culture is no exception. In the same way outrageous fashion and musical styles from the 70s, 80s, and 90s have reappeared from obscurity, the idea of having tangible records seem to have appeal again. In fact, Record Store Day was conceived in 2008 – in celebration of independently owned record stores the world over.

For the past decade or so, vinyl’s resurgence of retro has shown continuously increasing sales. Maybe it’s the feel and nostalgia of having a physical copy of one’s favorite music. For others, maybe it’s a mere trend. And for some, it may just be a different analog sound that digital formats simply cannot replicate. Whatever it is, vinyl lovers across the United States and worldwide are eating it all up.

Interestingly, in 2017 about 14 million vinyl records were sold in the United States alone – an increase of over a thousand percent compared to 10 years earlier. Impressive as it sounds, it accounts for only 8.5 percent of US album sales. However, vinyl still has a bold impact on the music industry, disrupting a mostly digital platform with a century-old technology fighting its potential extinction.

On the business side of things, what makes vinyl special is how it’s made. Although today the compact disc (CD) still exists, vinyl producers have a hard time keeping up with the constantly rising demand for their medium. Because there are no more record press manufacturers, there are a limited number of factories such as Rainbo Records in California and Qrates from Japan would use what are practically antique equipment.

Vinyl comeback is a great surprise for music records sales!

Surprise Sources

A surprising trend is that startups have been riding on the vinyl train in recent years. Here are just three names who have created a solid following:

Vinyl Me, Please

Essentially, Vinyl Me, Please (VMP) is a vinyl record club for today’s subscription-based lifestyle. Similar to how regular subscription boxes work, this company sends a member one record a month (for $23 each month). Each selection is curated by the men and women of VMP – records they think are worth a listen. In addition to the selected 12-inch vinyl record, subscribers also receive a commissioned artwork print, as well as a cocktail recipe the curators think would match the album. Established in 2013, the people behind VMP have since then shared amazing music from the likes of Father John Misty, Perfume Genius, SBTRKT, and Torres, to name a few.


Dubbed by many as the Netflix of vinyl, VNYL allows its subscribers to receive curated and hand-picked selections as well, three at a time. Each selection showcases various genres, spanning all forms of talent, allowing listeners a more diverse set of music than they probably normally would check out. What makes them even more Netflix-y is that the curators don’t just base decisions on their own personal preferences – they check out what their already-devoted fanbase would listen to, similar to Netflix’s algorithm of suggesting TV shows and movies based on its subscribers activity and preferences.

Vinyl Moon

Vinyl Moon, a subscription service established in 2015, has a $25 per month offering of new indie and electronica tracks. The company’s creator Brandon Bogajewicz personally curates a selection each month in to “Volumes,” much like mixtapes and mixed CDs of the not so olden times. Thanks to his blog The Burning Ear, Bogajewicz has established himself as a music tastemaker – enough to have his then Kickstarter campaign raise an impressive $18,000 in less than a month’s time.

Though vinyl is showing no signs of slowing down or becoming extinct anytime soon, who knows how long this disruptive trend will last? The above companies have struck while the iron’s still hot – but who knows what’s next for music?

What Would You Do With Hands Free Driving Time?

The self-driving car is a logical evolution from the various safety features which are included in today’s cars. The developments have included some form of automated driving assist, including parking and braking. With the coming of autonomous vehicle expected to be released to the market very soon, drivers would have nothing to do while the cars drive themselves. When that happens, there would be some changes in the car’s interiors, its function as well as the attitude of the passengers.

Safety Features and the Self-Driving Car

The autonomous vehicle did not start out as a driverless car. Car manufacturers added dynamic safety features which help prevent accidents. These tools for driver assistance were developed with the aim of improving the various tasks associated with driving. These included ABS brakes, rear sensors and cameras, as well as driver assisted emergency braking. Adding more assistance would help to lessen the stress and information load on the driver.

The concept of a self-driving car was a leap forward, and intended to be the end goal. To reach those goals, new technologies were developed, allowing the vehicle to be aware of its environment. The problems encountered along the way are all technological issues, the solutions to which are either off the shelf or are already within reach of current technology. What was not foreseen was the effect on the passengers and the drivers. With nothing to do, the user is no longer a driver, but another passenger. This is a big effect on the owner and operator.

For the purpose of classification, there are 5 autonomous levels of driving, plus Level 0, which No Automation. Level 1 is Driver Assistance. The driver operates the vehicle, but there are some functions which assist automatically. These functions are not too obvious, but are noticeable to a driver who has driven older vehicles. Level 2 is Partial Automation. The driver monitors the driving environment, but there are some automated functions. The driver has to be ready to step in and interfere at any time. It is safe to say that the driver has to have his hands on the steering wheel at all times, just in case. Level 3 is Conditional Automation. The environment monitoring is done by the vehicle. There are conditions where the vehicle can function without intervention. A lot of Level 3 vehicles can drive unattended while running at 37 miles per hour or slower. Level 4 is High Automation. The vehicle monitors driving conditions, and can practically drive itself unattended. It informs the driver that conditions are safe, before the driver can transfer control to the car. Level 5 is Complete Automation. The car can monitor and drive on its own. There is no need for any driver controls.

Interaction Between Car and Driver

The above levels of autonomous driving are important to consider. Only in Level 5 is the driver no longer able to interfere with the driving. Currently, a lot of vehicles are at Level 3, but even at Level 2, there are drivers who forget that they are driving and begin to let the car drive itself. Two things are happening to drivers. They are becoming more dependent on the car’s safety features; and they are losing some of the skills necessary for driving.

There is an increase in the number of accidents where the drivers are not as involved in driving as they ought to be. The drivers have become dependent on assisted brake systems. They no longer turn their heads to look at the sides or the rear of the car, depending instead on driver assistance systems when backing up the vehicle. They have forgotten the basics of defensive driving. For these kinds of drivers, autonomous cars cannot come soon enough.

Autonomous  Driving: How Would You Spend Your Time?

autonomous vehicles pros and cons infographic

As a result of the dependence on the automated systems which were meant to assist driving, drivers have also forgotten the same skills these assistive driving features were supposed to augment. Drivers who have been driving cars with automated parking features now have a hard time parking without these features.

There seems to be merit in Ford’s decision to skip Level 3 and go straight to Level 4. They don’t want the driver to be interfering with the automated system. With a Level 4 autonomy in place, the driver no longer has to touch the wheel once he transfers control to the autonomous driving system. The driver does not second-guess the vehicle.

What You Can do with Full Autonomy

There’s a reason that Level 5 is a driverless car; there’s simply no more need for a driver. The autonomous functions kick in the moment the vehicle is started. It monitors its environment, it drives the passengers, and it maintains the safety of the passengers as well as everyone else in its environment.

With this in mind, there is no more need for car controls, like the steering wheel, gas pedal, brake pedal and gear shift. The passenger gets in, the car is started, the destination is entered into the console and the car drives to the destination. Depending on the travel time, the passenger can do anything he wants. He can read a book, take a nap, work on his computer, check emails, browse the internet, or even play board games with a fellow passenger.

The change in roles creates a different dynamic for the car. For a long time, the car has been considered an extension of the home. With an autonomous vehicle, the passenger has time on his hands instead of driving.

A survey conducted among 130,000 car owners from all across the world were asked what would they be doing if they were riding an autonomous vehicle. 22% of respondents from Europe and North America answered that they would still be paying attention to the road, compared to only 16% of respondents. In North America, 14% answered that they would be communicating, which includes being on the phone, email, video chat, or messenger. In Europe, 17% said they would be communicating, while in Asia, 14% of respondents would be communicating.

For automobile manufacturers, they are already thinking of what former drivers and other passengers would be doing in their cars while it is in transit. The car makers envision a car which would serve as a “third space” which would bridge work and home. The concept of the third space is like that of a pub, a bar, or even a park where people are welcome and can be comfortable, it is inexpensive, accessible, with a regular group of people in attendance, and where old friends catch up with each other, and new friends are made. The concept of a car does not seem that way, unless the autonomous vehicle is involved in ride pooling of regulars. When people are in close proximity, they tend to socialize.

The third space does not happen on a commuter train because it is larger and has more people who randomly and infrequently interact with each other. This is different in a car, where the same small group of people would sit together as it drives itself to their destination.

The design of the fully autonomous car would also be different. There would be no more need to have all the seats facing in the same direction. They can be benches along the side of the car. Alternatively, the front seats can be facing the back and the other passengers. Normal seating can be two in front and two in the back, or it could have benches with three abreast.

Fully autonomous cars and self-driving vehicles will leave a bold impact in society. The transition from driver to passenger can be an opportunity for people to interact and socialize. Or it can just fizzle out, with everyone too busy with whatever they do on their smartphones, or their tablets.